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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Conflicting Reports About What Caused Black Out

Aired August 14, 2003 - 20:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Want to bring in here in Washington, our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, who has been working vigorously, trust me, throughout the day to try to find out how this happened and what will be done about it. Jeanne, the latest?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, I just talked to an official with the New York Power Authority. They run that big hydroelectric power plant up in Niagara Falls, New York. And they are denying reports that that is where this all started.

They say they have had no lightning strikes. They have been producing power all day long. Quote, "It has been the rock of the system," they say, because of its size and its design, that plant and another hydroelectric plant that they run in New York State had been up and running through this entire thing.

They are denying flatly that their plant might be the one where this problem today originated.

I will say I talked to someone in the city of Niagara Falls. They suffered a power outage also there for about four hours this afternoon, but they noted that some things were up and operating, including the border crossings. They said the bridges were functioning as they normally do.

But once again, New York Power Authority strenuously denying that they had any lightning strike or that their plant in Niagara Falls is where this blackout began, John.

KING: All right, Jeanne, so still some conflicting information to sort out.

Canadian officials, who initially said a lightning strike, are now saying a fire, but they still say this originated on the New York side.

Jeanne Meserve, our other correspondents, will continue to pursue that.

I should tell our viewers we will bring you as soon as possible the tape, the videotape, of a statement made just moments ago by President Bush to reporters in California.

We can tell you, as we await the tape, the president said the federal government has offered to help those states affected cope with this blackout. He said emphatically, quote, "This was not, this was not a terrorist attack." That from the president of the United States.

Mr. Bush also says the federal government is working with the half-dozen states that we know have been affected by this to help restore power as quickly as possible. And the president saying the federal government also will be involved in the investigation of the possible cause.

We have heard throughout the day, of course, a dispute about how this might have happened. Was the electrical power grid up to speed on this? The president himself saying he believes the United States electricity grid should be modernized, as we await the videotape of the president's remarks from California.

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